Rayess Bek and La Mirza — ‘Love and Revenge’

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Randa Mirza (L) and Rayess Bek (R) during their recent performance at the Louvre Abu Dhabi
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Randa Mirza and Rayess Bek during their recent performance at the Louvre Abu Dhabi. A scene from "Love & Revenge" projected on the screen behind them.
Updated 05 May 2018
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Rayess Bek and La Mirza — ‘Love and Revenge’

  • The viewer is taken back to an era of cinema that probably won't be recreated
  • “Love & Revenge” was recently at the Louvre Abu Dhabi for two consecutive nights

DUBAI: There’s a scene early on in “Love & Revenge” that epitomizes the poignancy in Rayess Bek’s and Randa Mirza’s audio-visual ode to a cultural golden age - clips of classic Egyptian cinema set to contemporary electro-pop reworkings of vintage Arab songs. 

In a sequence of scenes taken from Hussein Kamal’s 1969 film “Abi Foq Al-Shagara,” the Egyptian star Abdel Halim Hafez poses self-consciously in front of a camera in Baalbek, Lebanon. With him is the actress Nadia Lutfi. As their love affair unfolds on screen, they laugh and embrace and kiss. All is set to Bek’s masterful reworking of Mohamed Abdel Wahab’s “Ya Msafer Wahdak,” sung by Nagat Al-Saghira.

It’s a sad piece of film to watch. Not because of its beauty, innocence or freedom, or because of the snapshot of an unspoiled Lebanon that it provides, but because you know, deep down, that nothing like the original film or music can ever be created again.

At the heart of “Love & Revenge” is the realization that the Arab world seen through the prism of the golden age of Egyptian cinema bears little or no resemblance to today’s world: A world in which expressions of love, romance and sexuality have been effectively erased. As such, “Love & Revenge” can be viewed as an attempt to reclaim a more liberal past; one where Hafez is free to embrace Lutfi on screen at will.

Created by Bek, a former Arabic hip-hop trailblazer turned audio-visual collaborator, and Mirza, a video artist, “Love & Revenge” was at the Louvre Abu Dhabi for two consecutive nights last week, and brought with it a keen sense of nostalgia.

Even the title is important, taken as it is from Youssef Wahbi’s 1944 film “Gharam Wa Intiqam” (Love and Revenge), the last movie to feature the singer and actress Asmahan, a Druze princess who died in mysterious circumstances before the film was finished. It is Bek’s mid-tempo, beat-heavy reinterpretation of Asmahan’s “Emta Hataraf” that is arguably the project’s standout track.

Yet, for all the perceived freedom depicted in “Love & Revenge,” with the possible exception of Asmahan the movie scenes chosen by Mirza represent a man’s vision of women. Even now, that cinematic vision is only slowly changing.


The Six: Maison Rabih Kayrouz’s haute couture collection

Maison Rabih Kayrouz SS'19.(AFP)
Updated 7 min 4 sec ago
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The Six: Maison Rabih Kayrouz’s haute couture collection

DUBAI: Lebanese fashion house Maison Rabih Kayrouz unveiled its 2019 spring/summer haute couture collection at Paris Couture Week on Monday, after receiving haute couture status from the French Couture Federation in December.

Golden touch
The Lebanese designer created this knitted sweater with a golden metallic tint and paired it with a flowy maxi skirt embellished with delicate lace in this decadent look.

Warming up
This look featured a camel-colored fleece suit, with a transparent mesh top embellished with golden filigree work. The geometric folds of the jacket took this look from “meh” to memorable.

Fern green queen
A candy cane-striped shirt was paired with jewel-toned, wide-cut silky pants in this causal yet elegant daytime look.

Chartreuse muse
This high-necked chartreuse dress featured cuffed, bell sleeves and was paired with matching shoes for a sumptuous sartorial statement.

Cream dream
A cream-colored, princess-cut dress, the ribbed fabric on this chic number gave it a certain edginess — as did the exaggeratedly high collar.

Work it
This look featured bat sleeves with delightful, cutting-edge slits running up the crisp white sleeves. The office-appropriate statement top, with its on-trend dog collar, was matched with simple, wide-legged black pants and flat ballet slippers.